After winning their second Stanley Cup in four years, the Chicago Blackhawks are again among the best teams in the NHL this season.
That's a status the Edmonton Oilers can only dream of right now, but a season-high three-game winning streak has them gaining confidence.
The Blackhawks go for their own three-game run as they continue a seven-game road trip Monday night against the Oilers.
Chicago (16-4-4) leads the Central Division with 36 points, one behind NHL-leading Anaheim.
The Blackhawks are also among the league's best road teams with a 7-3-1 record, winning two of the first three on this trip caused by the circus at the United Center.
Chicago put on its own impressive display Saturday, when Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger scored nine seconds apart in the third period in a 2-1 win at Vancouver.
"It can turn around pretty quick if we get some chances, especially the opportunities we got," said Cory Crawford, who had 36 saves. "They were A-plus chances and usually we bury those and we did."
Things appear to be turning around for the Oilers (7-15-2), who have outscored opponents 15-3 during a three-game winning streak, matching their win total over the previous 18 games.
Edmonton's surge continued with Thursday's 4-1 win over Florida, two days after pounding Columbus 7-0 for its highest output of the season.
"Winning games does so much for the confidence of the team, especially when you are playing well and winning," said Taylor Hall, who had two assists against the Panthers. "That's a double bonus. We are getting great goaltending, and it seems like our special teams is the engine that is driving us right now.
"We are getting a lot of confidence off of that."
The Oilers are 5 for 9 on the power play the past two games, while killing all nine they've faced during the win streak. The penalty-killing unit has only given up goals on 2 of 33 chances in nine games.
Jordan Eberle's production is also helping.
The right wing has three goals and one assist in three games after scoring twice Thursday. He has six goals and 12 assists in 12 career meetings with Chicago.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has also thrived against the Blackhawks, collecting nine points in six games, including a career-high five in a 9-2 home win Nov. 19, 2011.
The teams have split six meetings since, but Chicago has won the last two, including a 5-4 victory at home Nov. 10, with Shaw and Kruger getting a goal each.
Patrick Kane had an assist in that meeting, giving him 31 points in 24 career games against the Oilers, and 18 have come during a 10-game point streak.
Captain Jonathan Toews has seven goals and four assists over his past seven games at Rexall Place.
The Blackhawks, though, will likely have to contend with Devan Dubnyk, who has stopped 71 of 74 shots with one shutout while starting every game of the Oilers' streak. He lost his five previous starts behind a 3.26 goals-against average.
"He seems really focused early in the games," coach Dallas Eakins said. "When our team was struggling, we weren't focused early and he was part of that. I find him very focused to start games now.
"Then he gets into the rhythm and gets a little swagger back there. He has been excellent for us of late, and when your goalie is excellent the wins start piling up."
Dubnyk is 2-4-0 with a 3.83 GAA in eight games - seven starts - versus the Blackhawks. He had 31 saves against them earlier this month.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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